Beyond The Rain
I read your words and I want to offer you a bit of what you asked for. You said: "I guess I'm hanging on by one word. Just one word. Hope!" Please always hope and dream, have patience and stay gold.
Auntie Em: "Why don't you find a place where there isn't any trouble?"
Dorothy: "A place where there isn't any trouble? Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto? There must be. It's not a place you can get to by a boat or a train. It's far, far away"behind the moon, beyond the rain."
Sitting by myself, my feet stuck in the cool water of the little stream, I tried, for the ten millionth time, to reason out why I had to have these problems. I was just a normal everyday kid, no better, no worse than most. I didn't do drugs, I didn't smoke or drink. I worried about my grades and my lack of six pack abs and if I was ever gonna get any taller or grow any hair on my chest. No earthshaking stuff, but important to me.
When I was about eleven, I began to realize that I zoned out on the teacher because I was watching Teddy Gleason draw little cartoon figures on the back of his notebook. Now, that in itself is nothing because a teacher talking about energy pyramids and food chains can only hold your interest for so long. A kid's attention span is about as long as a gnat's tongue. But, what began to bother me was that it wasn't really the little figures Teddy was drawing that got to me. It was his hand. The way it closed in around his pencil and then the way he'd shove his hair out of his face with the other equally attractive hand. Why was I watching Teddy's hands? I would cruise my attention over to Marybeth Kelly and watch her twist her long red hair around her finger and wait to feel the same little tingle. Shouldn't her hands interest me more than Teddy's?
By thirteen, the hands thing changed to just about any part of the male body exposed to my eyes. I could go catatonic over a wrist, a slope of chest, the small of a back, the tiny half-smile a guy gets when he doesn't know anyone is looking. Sure, everything located between waist and knee was of great interest, but I loved looking at the not so obvious parts too. I spent an entire school year drilling a hole in the back of Ernie Blaine's head with my eyes, where his hair just whispered across that curve at the base of his skull. Ernie has curly brown hair and the long curls would move in and out of that curve.
I found myself scoping out the same cute guys on TV shows as my two older sisters. On the sly, of course. It started with Dawson's Creek when I was twelve and having to choose between Pacey and Dawson. I always wanted to think about someone like Pacey, all strong and confident, but, secretly, I wanted Dawson. He never quite caught up with the rest of the world. He reminded me of one of those little windup dolls that walks into a wall and just keeps trying to go ahead. His face always seemed to be saying "Huh??" Like me. I still watch reruns and I guess I may be the only person who was always glad Dawson never bought a clue. He muddled and muddled badly but, like me, he kept on muddling.
We watch The O.C. now. Ginny and Marsha go bonkers over Ryan. I do indeed like the way he looks and the 'bad boy' attitude he pulls, but I would rather know Seth. He just can't ever get it together. It always falls apart. Maybe this season.
What I'm trying to say is I've had a long time to think about this. It doesn't really get any better and I see no answer in sight, but I know that I have a thing for guys. Girls are funny and sweet and they smell good, but then so do my sisters. I kind of want someone funny and sweet who smells like me.
My friends, would they be my friends if they knew what I thought about all the time? Probably not. I don't have any illusions about people. I watch the news; I read the paper. I know how someone you've known all your life can turn on you when, all of a sudden, you "change". I don't know how to explain to anyone that I'm just me, Billy Carmedy, the same Billy that has always been around. It's sad really that they don't even take the time to think about how much this has been hurting. How long I've felt different and strange. How much I've wanted to tell someone, but knew I couldn't. No, to them, it would come as a big surprise. And, the worse part, I think they'd take it that I was trying to hurt them with it, threaten them somehow, as if me being gay would rub off on them and they'd start chasing guys.
I have these daydreams where I tell my parents that I'm gay and they just look at each other, smile, then open their arms and hug me, saying, "Oh, Billy, I'm so proud that you've told us, trusted us to love you and help you be best gay man you can be." I don't suppose that has ever happened, but it makes a nice dream.
I understand why boys do it; why they tell them; why they totally believe that their families will accept anything they say. We're raised that way. I've had my mom say, "I'd love you, Billy, even if you were a serial killer." I kind of believe that she might because I'd be very very insane and you have to feel sympathy for the insane. But"..I know my mom. If I said I was gay, she'd collapse from inside, trying to figure out what she had done wrong when she raised me. There would be no answers and so, with no answers, she would have accept blame and, in accepting blame, no longer love me for making her the culprit. I know it sounds complicated, but she would do anything other than believe that God created me inside her and she let it happen. She'd never believe that I couldn't make it go away.
My dad, on the other hand, would just get angry. Anything he can't control or doesn't have the capability of understanding, just makes him angry. He's been told, by the church and the media, that if he wants to be a good God-loving conservative American, it would be impossible for him to have a queer son. End of story. For him to accept at all, would be to suggest that he might have a gene for homosexuality that he shared with me and that is totally impossible. After 46 years of referring to anything and everything he doesn't understand as 'gay' or 'fag', why would I expect him to change?
I think the hardest thing for me is to be so alone. I know the one out of ten rule, but looking at the 416 kids who go to Bitterroot High School with me, that would make approximately 42 of them gay. There's no way that's right. I try to find these elusive people, girls or boys, anyone who I could talk to, but I can't see them anywhere. They are hiding just like I am, behind books or footballs, under goth makeup or cheerleader pompoms. Anything to keep from being teased or hurt; being left out; being exiled.
I understand the thing about kids 'experimenting' , guys jerking off together 'just once' and then being terrified they're gay. I think that probably happens to most str8 guys because it's never happened to me. It could have, but then I'd have had to face the fact that I wasn't 'experimenting' and it wasn't gonna be 'just once' and people would have seen what I was and the name cocksucker just wasn't gonna come anywhere near me.
There was a boy. His name was Eric. When we were in elementary school, he only played jump rope with the girls and giggled when he talked. Eric was pretty with red lips and liquid brown eyes. I noticed, but I wasn't like that, so I avoided him. Boys would tease him saying stuff like, "You a fag, Molina? Gonna play with the girls?" Eric would cry and sit by himself on the playground. I want to say I went over and sat with him and told him not to care about what they said; not to take it to heart.....but I didn't. I will be forever ashamed that I let Eric go through that alone. I was eight and just wanted to be part of the crowd. Today, I know that the same crowd that teased Eric, those same people I wanted to part of, would turn on me and hurt me too. "You a fag, Carmedy? Gonna play with the girls? Wanna suck this?" They found Eric's body behind the football stadium, a baseball bat lying beside him. I'm so sorry, Eric. You didn't deserve that.
I thought about all this, lying back on the grass as the cool water ran over my toes, as the sun warmed me. My shirt off, I could feel the breeze play across my chest and wished only for someone to be lying beside me.
Str8 people think that gays are attracted to anything that moves, that they have sex with anything that breathes. I kinda think that would make me like my dog, Barnaby. He sniffs bottoms and humps just about anything that walks. He's a huge chocolate lab, but will try to do a schnauzer or even a weiner dog. Not too picky.
I guess it's too big a concept for str8s to get their brains around that we have the same hormones, the same attraction/ non-attraction vibes that they do. I may see the hottest guy and jones like crazy, but then that smallish boy in my history class with the soft blond hair and crystal blue eyes would be who I'd want to touch, to talk to, to feel something for. I'm a walking hard-on just like any other seventeen year old, but I have my standards and I know what my taste is. I may be gay in a world where there are only two or three other gay guys, but that doesn't mean I would find out about one of them, run up to him and sigh, "I love you" just cause he's like me. I totally check-out any boy who crosses my vision, but I do think it would be so much simpler if gay boys gave off some kind of glow, an aura that only we could see.
My friends all date, girls of course, and don't hesitate to share every detail. I don't think they do half of what they say, but maybe they do. According to them, every girl in our school is totally fuckable and gives it out like candy on Halloween. That's sad if it's true, plus out of the 42 gay kids hiding somewhere here in these noisy halls, some have got to be lesbians, so some are definitely not ummm, boy fuckable.
It's getting tougher for me not to get into the talk. I date when I have to, but I apparently have found the only girls at Bitterroot who have brains and can keep their panties on. I really think they appreciate not having to put out to be popular. God, that's so sad.
I want to go to college and learn to be an architect. I want to live in a big city where no one knows my name and I can be me. I want to burn these jeans and flannel shirts and wear clothes that make me look good. I want to go to museums and plays and learn about music and painting. I want to eat different foods and drink wine. I want to make friends with people like me and look for someone who will love me. I won't look too hard at first and I won't panic at 25 if I haven't found him. These are my promises to myself. I may not get it all, but I'm going to try. I believe that I need something to offer someone for them to want me too and I won't have what I need until I'm older and gone from here.
Of course I would love to have a boyfriend right now, just like my friends all have girlfriends, holding their hands and feeling their way through first time sex. Feeling like someone cares just for me, hears me when I talk, listens to my dreams and my hopes. But, I've figured out that it's different for me. Life's much harder and what I should be doing right now, learning to grow up, learning how to handle my hormones, will have to wait.
Of course, if the right boy came along, all this would turn out to be total bullshit. If one of the 42 hidden gays here at my school suddenly appeared, I'm not sure what would happen. I talk a big talk because I have to make myself believe in my dreams. It's the way I get through.
I can't wait to go to college. I've had a few good teachers in high school, but most of them are just pulling a paycheck and don't give a crap whether we learn or not. The only class I really like this year is Psych. Mr. Cantor is pretty cool and lets us talk. He doesn't just sit at his desk and lecture for 45 minutes. That's so gross. He asks us to think.
Psych is the only time I see Aaron Sorensen. We used to be friends when we were little, but he went one way and I went another. He had money and I didn't. His family was way into church and my family wasn't. Nothing in common, so our paths never crossed. I always watched him in Psych class, flirting and laughing. Everyone loved Aaron; girls wanted him and guys wanted to be him. He would kill me if he could hear what I was thinking, but he is really pretty, all that long shiny brown hair and those laughing eyes. He's always been cute, but the older he gets, the better he gets. With his history though, he is definitely not one of the 42. Dang.
I just lay quietly in the sun, my horse Chaco nuzzling my face, snickering for a treat. I knew I had to get back to work, but the post hole digger was heavy and the sun felt so good.
The next day was Friday and we had a Psych test. I noticed that Aaron was absent. That was really weird cause his parents were real strict about him missing school. Always had been. I remember him coming to school once in third grade with a bad cold. He felt so bad and finally threw up. He was out one day and then he was back, still looking pukey. I remember feeling sad that his mom made him come back so fast.
I took my test, tossed the paper in the basket at the corner of Mr. Cantor's desk, frowned at the empty desk where Aaron usually sat and walked out into the hall to hook up with my friends. I forgot about Aaron as we scuffled and made our way to gym. He would be back on Monday and besides, he wasn't in my world anyway.
The weekend ran along as usual. I loved Saturday and Sunday. They were like my days to be myself. I could ride Chaco to work at the feed store and then ride him out into the desert on my long shortcut home.
Riding out there, the scent of honeysuckle strong in the air, the sage brush drifting in the breeze, I felt alive. There was always a small tight ache in my heart that I always took these rides alone, but I knew this was my private time. I'd never bring anyone out here unless he was like me.
When I was very small, I lured a chipmunk into a Hav-a-hart trap and brought him home proudly. I kept him penned in a fish aquarium tank for three days, feeding him nuts and stuff. What I had loved about him was the way he jumped and ran, all full of life and energy. In the tank, he stopped. He just tried, all day, to scrabble his way out through the glass. I sat there, watching him, and even at seven, I knew what he wanted. He wanted his freedom back.
I felt like that chipmunk now. I felt like I was in a giant glass tank, peering out a world I wanted to run to, trying to scrabble my way out. The world around me was beautiful, clean and free, but I wasn't. I was in a cage not of my own making; a cage the world had created to hold me in. I had kept my feelings quiet for five years. I could do it for one more. One more and I could be me.
Oh, the chipmunk ....... I let him go. I took him back to the very place I had found him, thinking his family would be very worried. I hope he is a great granddaddy now, living clean and free.
I worked around the ranch for the rest of my Saturday and Sunday. It was hard work, but my dad counted on me to be there for him. It was hard being the foreman, loving the land and the livestock, but not owning any of it. He worked hard and expected no less from me.
I had my job at the feed store after school and on Saturday mornings. The money helped me fit in with clothes for school and gas for my truck. I saved any extra for college; for my dream.
Saturday night was party night. Living in a small town, there's not much to do, so we made up 'games'. Tailgate skiing was always on, where you stood on the tailgate of a truck, holding onto ropes tied to the toolbox and they drove really fast in circles, trying to throw you off. If you stood really tight, your legs spread, your feet pushing into the steel, you made it. If you relaxed, you flew off. Flying off hurt and the next time, you didn't relax.
My friends were all getting some from their girlfriends in parked cars or in the woods. I would always dance with the girls who had come alone, so that everyone could see that I was having a good time. It was weird, but if one day, when I'm a world famous architect, and people ask me where I get my creativity, I'm gonna think back to all the years I spent planning and trying to avoid being found out. It takes a lot of imagination to wiggle your way in and out of what, for everyone else, is a normal party.
Monday morning, tired from my weekend, I fed Chaco, did my chores and got to school just as the first bell was ringing. The day went along as usual, boring with a few bits of humor and the explicit tales of who did what to who Saturday night.
I always find it confusing". Str8 guys will call someone they think weak or weird 'pussy' in the same tone they say 'fag'. I've always thought that they put girls kinda on the same level they do gays. Now, that's a really sad thought. I mean, "You pussy" and "You fag" can be applied to the same exact situation, like a kid who can't climb the rope. Totally interchangeable. I don't guess str8s have a lot of respect for anyone else. I suppose that 374 str8s does overpower 42 gays, but that doesn't make them better, just stronger and louder.
I walked into Psych, anxious about my test grade. I really needed an A or a B to keep my grade. Mr. Cantor was always fair and would give a few extra points for original thought. I hope I had had a few of those.
As he walked up and down the rows, handing the papers back, I saw Aaron's empty desk. I was too worried about my grade to think about why he wasn't there. Mr. Cantor handed me my test and I saw a big red A- at the top. Grinning, I looked up and saw him smile. He had written: 'Keep thinking, Billy!!'
I watched him finish the rows and hesitate beside Aaron's desk, an odd look on his face. It brought the empty desk back into my focus. Aaron must really be sick. If he'd been one of my tight friends, I would have driven by after school to check on him and take him homework, but he and I hadn't been close for years. I figured one of his friends would take care of it.
Then, Mr. Cantor brought my brain back to class. What he said surprised me, but I thought it was way cool. I kinda wish it was me doing something different. I envied Aaron for getting to do something fun.
"Aaron Sorensen will be gone for a few weeks. His uncle had a heart attack and he's helping at his uncle's ranch."
For the next few days, rumors drifted up and down the hallways about Aaron. He hadn't called anyone. He hadn't even told his girlfriend, Sissy. He had just left. It was weird. People said he was in drug rehab; he was in jail; he ran away to California. The stories whispered through the halls for a few days and then died away. Wherever Aaron Sorensen was, it had to be more fun than here. School was boring and life was slow.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]